Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Lighter Side of Terrorism

Nothing like having a major US city brought to its knees by cartoon characters.

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Suspicious devices that led to bridge closings in Boston and forced the evacuation of a hospital building were part of a cable television channel's marketing campaign, officials said.

The devices were magnetic lights promoting ``Aqua Teen Hunger Force,'' a show on the Turner Broadcasting System's Cartoon Network, according to a statement from Time Warner's Turner broadcasting unit.

``They are part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities,'' the statement said. ``They have been in place for two to three weeks.''

Go Aqua Teen Hunger Force! Um, wait a sec, they've been in place for two or three weeks? So much for early intervention. Had they been a real threat Boston would now have some brand new pre-fab holes to make into ponds.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino promised whoever planted the devices faces heavy criminal penalties.

``Two to five years for each one of them,'' Menino said.

So you're going to jail advertisers, or more likely, the working people who were paid to put up the advertising because you weren't smart enough to know the difference between what basically amounted to a super-sized Lite-Brite and an actual bomb?

'Nuff said. Every time I think we've reached the peak of retardedness someone has to go one further.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Screw the South, the West May Rise and Kick Your Ass

Nevada Up North has chosen and the verdict is We Need Richardson. My disclaimer is that we have never communicated so much as one word, this was in fact the first time I had even commented there so this is not a Nevadan conspiracy. It's an honest-to-goodness case of at least the two of us arriving at the same conclusion for much the same reasons. A good omen if one assumes that either of us might have an inkling of two things:

1. Which candidates might actually be able to make good things happen for the country and

2. Of those candidates, which one might actually be electable.

I'm not knocking the other candidates, I even really and truly like several of them but I gotta choose just one, right?

I like Hillary Clinton, I love Barack Obama, I like Kuchinich, I don't particularly dislike Vilsack or Dodd though I'll confess that as a lifelong southwesterner, I'm burnt on easterners and midwesterners and these two seem pretty regional in their outlooks. Edwards, well...he makes me cringe. Might be a personal bias, something to do with personal injury lawyers from North Carolina with great big, toothy smiles but ok, if he wins the primary I'll vote for him simply to vote against the right-wingnuts that I'm even more sick of. I won't be happy about it but I'll do it.

Yup, there really is an East-West-Midwest tug of war. See, the Easterners traditionally have treated the West like a redheaded step-child. Not quite good enough for the club Old Man, but you can clean our toilets and hand over all your resources, m'kay. The Midwest and the South, frankly Scarlett, leave our Libertarian souls screaming. Way too much trying to legislate in our bedrooms and crying Help, Help, me Rhonda for the federal government to "protect our way of life". Don't get me started on the ones that migrate here in herds, determined to change the West into their new nest-of-bible belt-values-with-a-better-climate.

You'd have to hear my better half to understand how deep this division runs. He firmly believes that the Civil War was a tragic mistake and we should have let the South secede. Nay, encouraged them to secede. Freed the people, gotten them out and then built a wall to keep Southerners out. He is not unique in this view. I used to think that was extreme, silly even. Not so much anymore, too much first hand experience with those folks, I now see his point. We voted for Titus but I firmly believe that Georgia drawl of hers is what got us stuck with Gibbons. A lot of Westerners will vote for a monkey before they'll vote for a southerner.

I have no idea how Richardson will play in the rest of the country but in the Western states I'm pretty sure he's the man.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Dark Horses and Flying Pigs

Holy-moly, I asked for it and I got it. Truths are beginning to fly out of the mouths of politicians at an alarming rate, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill calls Cheney "delusional" regarding his views on Iraq and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Nebrasaka, tells his fellow Senators who are reluctant to take a clear stand against the current Iraq policy that if they are more concerned with their poll ratings than with stopping the proposed troop "surge" then maybe they "should find another job -- perhaps selling shoes".

Keep an eye on the sky people, pigs will begin to fly any day now.

Okay yes, I'm delighted with both statements. It's refreshing and hopeful to hear some of our leadership spit out the unvarnished truth and consequences be damned. On the other hand as a democrat I'm concerned that our party is already sliding down that slippery slope of handing over the '08 election one more time.

Hagel may very well run in '08 and I'm going to do what I usually do and fly in the face of most of the political "experts". The "experts" are doing what experts get paid to do (state the obvious), yammering about how Hagel may not have a snowballs chance in hell of winning his primary because of his stance against the war and lack of lockstep loyalty to his party.

Keep believing that and watch Hagel wipe the floor with your faces.

Most of America could give a shit less about either party. Understand this: we don't trust either of you and frankly, you could almost say we hate you. We think most if not all of you are a bunch of elitist bastards more concerned with keeping your stranglehold on the rest of us than with actually accomplishing anything. Most of the time we're right.

Looking at Hagel's voting record I'd have to say he's as bad or worse than all the rest. He is a true conservatives conservative. The problem is he speaks the language. He has a firm grasp of some of the basic things that appeal to Americans in general. He understands that running against the grain on some major issues plays to our love of voting for the dark horse. Ask Joe Lieberman. He understands that most of America will happily overlook most of his stances on other issues even if they are diametrically opposed to their own views if they decide he is the man with the big fuzzy brass balls. We love our big fuzzy brass balls.

The experts can spin 10,000 reasons that Bush squeaked back in against Kerry in '04 but it came down to one simple thing: Americans believed Kerry had no cajones. It's really that simple.

So I'm going to go out on a limb here and make my call. Hagel is most likely the greatest danger to a democratic win in '08. I have very little faith Hillary Clinton would stand a chance against him. Obama might. Maybe on a good day. John Edwards might make a good showing on Dancing With the Stars but up against a big hairy set of huevos he'll be toast. I'm holding my breath waiting for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to show us his testosterone level, my money is on him.

Yeah, I hear you laughing out there, "oh please, some guy from New Mexico". Yup, some guy from a state a lot of Americans think still belongs to Mexico. There's an advantage to coming from a podunk little state. You don't get to be as insulated from the realities of us unimportant little commoners and you might just speak the language. Ask that guy from Arkansas, Bill Clinton.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Huked on Foniks For Pundits

Funniest thing I've heard today: Tom DeFrank speaking on the Lou Dobbs show, "this president has the courage of his convictions".

I'll allow Mr. DeFrank that this was a true statement. I'm going to have to point out that so do paranoid schizophrenics. Having the courage of ones' convictions can be a powerful thing, for better or for worse. When one has the courage of ones' convictions in spite of all factual evidence that your convictions are either false or detrimental then it is commonly called "stuck on stupid".

Looking at the facts, that Mr. DeFrank (and many like him) receive upwards of $7500 to state the obvious for common folk such as myself, and the fact that at least 50% of the common folk elected this administration I'm forced to conclude that Emperor Bush is not the only one who is stuck on stupid.

Now I can say our Naked Emperor is a fool, that he's a paranoid, megalomaniacal warmonger with dreams of conquest and that he has sent this country on a path that will haunt us for at least a generation and increased the threat to the personal safety of every American and to the country in general at least 50% by his actions but coming from me it doesn't mean much. I'm no one of any importance so it matters about as much as if I told you the moon was made of cheese.

On the other hand, I think I could cough up $7500 if I could find someone whose words would carry some weight who would appear on primetime CNN and call a spade a spade. Quit talking around the Bush and just get on there and speak the truth: we have an insane person running our country.

See, it isn't difficult. A lot of us know it already. Just get up there and say it straight out in plain English that every American can understand. To hell with the sensibilities of the 30% of our population who are so intellectually impaired they cannot grasp this concept. The rest of us are tired of being dragged around by the mentally deranged. I have nothing against people with mental illness, I just don't think they ought to be controlling countries, particularly not countries with as much military capability as this one.

As far as I can tell just about everyone who is "anyone" is more concerned with losing face in public than with stopping this train wreck. If you're more concerned with your image or your poll ratings than with the fact that your country is being systematically destroyed and that it's likely to get worse, much, much worse, then really, I have to wonder if you have the worlds best exit plan or if you are just stupid.

I wonder how long until Canada begins contemplating a border fence to keep out all those pesky Americans?

Semi-Coherent Thoughts on Death and Dying

Today is more or less our first day of going back to some semblance of routine. I say more or less because it isn't exactly routine yet. I still have chores to do such as clearing out the Christmas ham that she won't ever be having after all and tending the small herd of semi-feral cats we've inherited.

What always strikes me is how little we really leave behind us. In the end it comes down to returning Netflix videos and cancelling accounts. For most of us our greatest claim to immortality will be the credit card offers that will continue arriving years after the rest of the world has forgotten we ever existed. I've been through this enough times to know that dying is the surest path to a four-star credit rating.

This death has been different for me in that it isn't me who has been so greatly affected. I already said goodbye to most of the people who ever loved me years ago. I'm sad and I will miss this lady but her passing hasn't left a huge hole in my life and she didn't take most of my history with her, nor do I carry the memories of most of hers. It's been difficult because she took my husband's, one of the few people left on this planet I feel connected to.

I had to watch him say goodbye to the last remaining person who shared his history and understand completely how that feels. I think it may be more painful than going through it myself. I've had 25 years to get used to my disconnectedness so I'm sure time has softened the edges but it's not exactly the sort of thing you forget.

The process of dying is not something I look forward to but being dead doesn't trouble me much because I think it's most likely I will simply cease to exist. Nothing too scary there, kind of sad but basically it just means I won't be around to grow more flowers, someone else will though so no major loss. What scares me is leaving my better half behind to cope by himself. The world is an ugly place and it's particularly ugly to disposable people.

That includes the majority of the worlds' population. Religious folks like to put a different spin on things, claim we are all "special in God's eyes". They talk the talk but they almost never walk the walk. Most of us are disposable people, bodies to be valued as consumers or worker bees or to fight our wars and don't forget to fight for our causes such as protecting the rights of the unborn. Fuck 'em once they're born but by God we're going to make certain they get born. We have to insure enough are born to keep up the supply of bodies to use or convert for our causes.

I'm not religious and this puts it all in a very different perspective for me. Every single life has value because much as I hate to break this down for you...this may well be all we get. I can't just shrug it off and say "oh well, now she's in God's hands" because that's bullshit. Convenient, self-serving bullshit. It makes some people feel better to believe this, more importantly it makes it easier to justify treating others in any way they find convenient.

Okay, I'm rambling a bit. I'm still walking around feeling slightly surreal. I think what I'm trying to say is don't worry so much about the afterlife, start worrying more about THIS life. We've become numb to the numbers, too many people suffering and dying every day so we don't even think about it much, it's overwhelming. Stop and pick one of that number, any one, and really think about what it would be to be them or to be one of their loved ones left behind. Walk in their shoes for one minute. Do this every day.

If we could ever get every single person on this planet to do this for one minute of every day I think we might actually be able to make some progress as a species. Yeah, I know, I'm dreaming. It will never happen. So now you understand why I'm not so troubled by my own mortality. Sometimes leaving a bad situation is the better option.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Getting What You Pay For

While I am on the topic of American conservatives cutting off their noses to spite their faces I thought I'd tackle the behemoth of US retail, the mighty Wal-Mart.

Unlike most of my brethren on the left side of life I'm not staunchly "anti-Wal-Mart". I have more of a love-hate relationship with it.

I believe in facing facts and the fact is I live in a podunk little town and at last check neither Nordstrom's or even J. C. Penney's were shit hot to come here. No Home Depot either, not even a Target. We have a couple of little individually owned clothing retailers if you enjoy wearing Hawaiian-flower print caftans or nothing but T-shirts emblazoned with skater or thrasher images.

This of course leaves the internet, my favorite shopping mecca. Much as I love internet shopping though I have to admit that sometimes one just needs a pair of socks. Then there are those little emergencies like when my coffeemaker gave up the ghost with no advance warning. Sorry, I'm not waiting till next week for a cup of coffee to make a $49.99 political statement, that ain't happening. If waiting till next week would save Darfur I'd do it, I'd most likely even give up coffee but I'm not doing it just to stay on the politically correct "good list".

I'm far from wealthy, trust me on that one, but I count myself fortunate that I'm in that group of people that can make choices as to where I shop, it's nice to have options. What about the roughly 40% of my community that do not have credit cards? No internet shopping for them, assuming they even own a computer and have an internet connection. They could drive the 60+ miles to Las Vegas I suppose. If they own a car capable of making the trips reliably and can afford the gas. Then again that's bound to piss off the environmental lobby.

That leaves the evil-employer-from-hell issue. I wouldn't want to work at Wal-Mart. Somehow I don't feature myself loving the hell out of being on my feet all day smiling at frazzled moms toting screaming toddlers. Thing is, I wouldn't want to work at a bank either for much the same reasons and they pay nearly as badly as Wal-Mart. They also utilise the trick of not covering any benefits for part-time employees and then hiring mostly part-time employees. No one is talking about Bank of America though, why is that?

The people who work at Wal-Mart are going to work somewhere and odds are good it will not be in a nice office job with full benefits at $12 an hour. No, because if they didn't work at Wal-Mart for $8 or $9 an hour they'd be relegated to working for one of those little mom-and-pop shops selling Hawaiian-flower print caftans for $6.15 and hour, full-time with no chance of benefits, ever. Or maybe the graveyard shift at the local convenience store selling 2-for-a-dollar hotdogs to drunks at 3 am. I'm voting for them to get hired at Wal-Mart. Even given our Nevadan penchant for firearms a body is still less likely to be shot in the head in Housewares barring runs on limited-availability clearance sale items.

What really kills me though (and here I am going to absolutely piss off most of my political allies) is that the very same folks who advocate so fiercely against globalization which contrary to popular mythology is not simply a bunch of "elitist leftists" but an overwhelming percentage of the "working class" are the very same folks who shop and work at Wal-Mart.

Per the Chicago Tribune
The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed for the third straight month in November, to the lowest level in 16 months.

The gap between imports and exports fell 1 percent, to $58.2 billion, the smallest shortfall since July 2005, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, as exports hit a record level and the deficit with China declined from an all-time high.

The fact that this occurred at the exact same time Wal-Mart faced it's first sales decline in 10 years is not coincidental.

Wal-Mart is the single largest importer of foreign-produced goods in the United States, their biggest trading partner is China, and their trade with China alone constitutes approximately 10 percent of the total US trade deficit with China as of 2004. As of 2004, 60% of products sold at Wal-Mart were imported into the United States from other countries. Wikipedia

Numbers don't lie. We can choose globalization and free or at least freer trade or we can give up inexpensive consumer goods. We can't have both.

I've listened to endless ranting and raving here in Podunkville and from that self-appointed "Champion of the Middle Class", Lou "Let's-Eat-the-Mexicans" Dobbs about the selling out of America and how we need to keep our manufacturing jobs here and for Americans. They huff and they puff and pontificate until they give literal meaning to the term "redneck". Then they jump into their affordable vehicle full of foreign-manufactured pieces and parts and go shopping. At Wal-Mart.

Excuse me for rolling my eyes.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Nevada's Traditional Values

Myrna the Minx at Reno and It's Discontents on the State of Nevada:

Nevada ranks first nationally in the percentage of our population that is homeless (D.C. isn’t a state). Its finally great to be first for a change isn’t it? The comments degenerate into the usual blame the immigrants and lazy people, and there is also ignorant speculation that a drop in housing prices will help the situation. Since all homeless people own homes and 41 percent of homeless people in the US are living in families , that makes perfect sense. Couple our high homeless population with our other worst ranking, meth use, add in our 44th ranking in k-12 education and you have a recipe for low taxes. You get what you pay for. And you’re an idiot if you can’t see that a high rate of homelessness, excessive drug use, and a lackluster K-12 education system aren’t related.

The lady speaks the truth. Ask any 10 Nevadans, chances are at least 6 or 7 of them will tell you "it's the illegals". Yeah, the illegals. Not the majority of Nevadans who squeal like pigs when asked to pay a penny in taxes for useless stuff like education, law enforcement, or mental health care.

We like to stick to important issues here in Nevada. Like making sure we don't have to register our guns. You never know when you might need to shoot one of those pesky homeless people or an illegal.

Those same 6 or 7 people would probably also tell you how 9/11 happened because of the democrats. We are losing in Iraq because of the democrats too. Democrats are also likely to blame for everything from crime to global warming. Bets on whether or not we killed Kennedy just to try and make republicans look bad.

So what is the difference between the Reds and the Blues, aside from Blues clearly being the the root of all evil? Myrna has this interesting little bit on The Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives. Great advice for parents wanting to insure their children grow up to share their traditional values: be sure your kids are easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age 3.

Easy enough. Just whup 'em around a little bit with the butt end of your shotgun next time you're robbed and have a mental breakdown, lose your job and become homeless and don't forget to pull 'em out of school as soon as they are old enough to get one of those minimum wage jobs. That'll teach 'em.

End Run Around the Home Team

In a move that should come as no surprise to anyone, Emperor Bush has staged a successful end run around any attempts to prevent implementation of his latest Iraq battle plan.

ABC News has learned that the "surge" Bush is expected to announce in a prime time speech tonight has already begun. Ninety advance troops from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Baghdad Wednesday.

An additional battalion of roughly 800 troops from the same division are expected to arrive in Baghdad Thursday. ABC News

It's a done deal, troops are on the ground and moving in faster than a pack of yuppies at a Pottery Barn clearance sale.

Gets even more interesting when you consider from whence they are coming. Our supposed "commitment" to Afghanistan and our UK and Canadian allies not withstanding, apparently keeping the Taliban out of the mix is no longer a priority.

Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s.
Baltimore Sun

Deanie Mills at Blue Inkblots has more.

My son fought with honor and bravery in that bloody desert country; once during the now-famous Battle of Fallujah in November of '04, and again more recently, in locations scattered throughout the Anbar province. He saw one friend get both legs and an arm blown off, another lose a hand, another get killed by a bullet to the head, and more horrors than he would be comfortable knowing I was writing about in such a public place. He also once drove a Humvee over an improvised explosive device that blew up beneath him. He was medivacced out, checked over, and sent back into combat.

Now, he's finding out that Marines like him who are "short-timers," completing their final year in the service, are being badgered and harassed and downright threatened in an attempt to force them to go back to Iraq, even if their own unit is not scheduled to do so. Marines in Dustin's unit, for instance, are being told that if they don't re-enlist in order to deploy with their own units (which aren't scheduled to go back until they are out of the Marines), then they must actually join other units that are scheduled to return soon.

Younger, more vulnerable Marines succumb to such pressures, and now, due to the new "surge" policy, those Marines will be deploying a full month ahead of time and held over for FIVE MONTHS longer than their usual tours. (If, of course, they survive that long.) And they won't even be with their buddies they served with before and upon whom they have come to rely for their lives, because they were pressed into another unit that was due to deploy soon.This is happening because the Marines are being pressured to come up with thousands of troops THEY DON'T HAVE for this so-called, politely-worded "surge."

I cannot honestly add much of anything to what Ms. Mills had to say in her post, there is much more so head over if you can bear to read another manifesto on this "surge", this was the one that really spoke to me and for me.

And Ms. Mills, I'm with you, I keep hoping that I might be proved WRONG.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Any Better?

I wasn't satisfied with the look but hadn't gotten around to changing it, thank you to Pesu for egging me on. Let me know if the colors work better or worse for you. I'm always willing to reconsider the course.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Tasty Footwear for the Fetishist Set

We've all had to eat our own words at one time or another. Well, those of us who are not living in our own little delusional worlds divorced from reality or facts anyway. Sometimes I even enjoy eating my own words. My views tending to reflect my rather bleak view of human nature in general, for me being wrong can be an uplifting experience. Occasionally people surprise me and behave sensibly, ethically and with some grain of humanity.

Today isn't one of those days so I'm going to take the low road and indulge in a little much needed schadenfreude.

Everyone remember the great Capt. Jamil Hussein conspiracy story? Sure you do. The guy the rightosphere claimed never existed. Yeah, that guy. If he didn't exist then surely that added credibility to their claims of the MSM making false and alarmist reports regarding Iraq, things really aren't that bad after all.

Tell it to your mama, she has to love you, I don't.

Seems the same Iraqi government and US military officials who denied the existence of said captain have now arrested him. Can't have him speaking to the press and making Iraq looking like something less than a Sunday school picnic can we?

So do we get a mea culpa? Gee, sorry world, we goofed, yes, this man exists. Not a chance.

Khalaf said Thursday that with the arrest of Hussein for breaking police regulations against talking to reporters, the AP would be called to identify him in a lineup as the source of its story.

Should the AP decline to assist in the identification, Khalaf said, the case against Hussein would be dropped. He also said there were no plans to pursue action against the AP should it decline.

Have to just love that strategy. Force the AP to either throw their source to the dogs or leave themselves open to further attacks on their credibility via our very own flag-waving, assmonkey, far right "patriots". Patriots who've done their very best to destroy any semblance of a free press as we've known it. Let's make certain the AP can't win this one, either way they go they're screwed, score another one for our citizen patriots.

Hey AP folks, tell them to most respectfully kiss your ass. Tell them in the interest of "national security" and "not divulging sensitive information" you can neither confirm nor deny anything. Go ahead, it's what our government has been doing all along and it seems to play well in Peoria.

As for all you rightie bloggers, here's a tidbit from Media Matters which may help refresh your memory.

Curt at Flopping Aces described the police captain as "the fraud we know as Jamil Hussein."

Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs
mocked the AP and "their nonexistent news sources."

SeeDubya at JunkYardBlog categorically
announced "There is no Captain Jamil Hussein,"
stressed "he doesn't really exist," that he's "non-existent," and suggested the AP source might actually be "Ayman Al-Zawahiri calling up the AP to give his version of events."

Armed Liberal at Winds of Change
declared, "We don't believe [Hussein] exists."

Michelle Malkin
mocked the AP's "bogus source Capt. Jamil Hussein."

"I'm still willing to take the word of an officer in the US Military over others,"
announced warblogger Anchoress.

Little Green Footballs
bemoaned "the Associated Press's right to lie to its customers and spread enemy propaganda" and insisted the global news outlet had been "hijacked by propagandists for terror gangs."

Rick Moran
declared that nobody needed "enemy propaganda coming from the AP."

There's more in the article but you get the picture, or you would if you ever allowed facts and reality to intrude upon your little slap-happy delusional worlds. Yes I know, everyone supports terrorism except you. We've heard your story repeatedly for years now. That boat still don't float.

My schadenfreude is only limited by the fact that this issue, as others before it, is not likely to shake many of your numbers because much like yourselves, they are also content to run around waving their flags and flapping their jaws accusing everyone who doesn't toe their party line of being part of a terrorist conspiracy to destroy the US of A.

The unpleasant truth is you are doing a pretty darn good job of doing that yourselves.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Take a Lesson From Rosa

The last few days I've been reading a lot of complaints about the new democratic congress coming from some of the same people who have helped to elect them. For the record: I was one of the people who voted a straight democratic ticket, for all the good that did here in Nevada.

The complaints center around the perception that congress is not doing or going to do anything to bring our troops home. Never mind they've only been in office since last week, we want what we want and we want it NOW. Well alrighty then, my grandbaby likes things that way too. She'd like her mother home ASAP. She'd be especially thrilled to know her mother would have no chance of being redeployed either. Now that you mention it, so would I.

One particular post by Profmarcus at Yes, I Do Take it Personally has particularly gotten under my skin. Not because it makes me angry or I disagree but because I believe he's sincere, frustrated and as frightened about what has happened to our country as I am. We only differ on the point of who we hold accountable for our failure to act.

I left this comment to his post:

Pushing some much needed and highly populist social issues is not a terrible idea. They need to build "political capital" with the center. You can't spend what you do not yet have.

Reality: congress does not have the power to bring the troops home. They have the pulpit. Even if they were foolish enough to attempt to cut off funding and commit political suicide, the truth is there are 50 million ways Bush & Co. can get around them.

In the meantime I'm keeping my ears tuned to any news that starts to come out re: findings from oversight committees. There is most likely where your ammo for impeachment will come from. And they will need a great deal of ammo AND the overwhelming goodwill of the voters to do it without handing the game back to the republicans.

I caught a bit of flak for that and that was fine. Better than fine, I fully expected to because they had no way of knowing where I was going with this.

To summarize a couple of points made by Brother Tim:

I differ with your opinion that it would be political suicide. Also, they HAVE the political capital, it was given to them on November 7. Doing nothing, and allowing this to go on, creating ever-increasing casualties, is political suicide.

What is it gonna take to spur Congress into action?

I can accept that, he may indeed be correct. Being as pessimistic as I have become about the "will" of a people who have voted in the Emperor-Who-Has-No-Clothes not just once but twice, I may be underestimating the hearts and minds of my countrymen.

That leaves the question of what is it going to take. I have an answer for that. Us, we the people, our will, our actions. That's it in a nutshell.

Sorry but blocking the Emperor's driveway or getting ourselves kicked out of political venues will not do it, picketing is not going to do it and deliberately getting ourselves arrested for misdemeanors is not going to do it. It might get us publicity and give us our 15 minutes of fame, it will not end the war.

Rosa Parks understood this when she sat down on that bus. She also understood that the issue was not about her. She was one person and she was tired. She started a revolution because a whole lot of folks were tired too. Ms. Parks never tried to make it about her, she knew she would have gone nowhere with her stance if the people were not behind her. The people were behind her though.

So there's your answer people. If we really want to stop this thing, if we really want to bring our troops home and if we honestly and truly believe that it is the will of the American people to do this, then lets all sit down on this bus.

Call a nationwide strike, don't buy, sell, work or contribute to this economy in any non-essential way. For one day. Just one day. Give our new congress their mandate, tell them that no, we aren't going to slap you down come next election for stopping this bus, we give you our permission to stop this thing by any means necessary. In fact, we DEMAND that you do it.

If we cannot or will not do that then it's all talk and we have no will. We're just talking to the hand.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

State Constitutional Mandates on Religion

Keeping the previous post in mind I have to ask: in this supposedly free country where we so proudly proclaim our commitment to both free speech and protecting the rights of all minorities, why is it that this man:
The Reverend Fred Waldron Phelps Sr. of the aforementioned Westboro Baptist Church, may seek to hold public office but in at least eight states an Atheist may not?

Arkansas, Texas, Massachussetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Maryland all have state constitutions containing language expressly barring non-theists from holding public office. Some contain language also barring many non-Christians of other faiths.

In a few states whose constitutions include the text of the oath of office, the candidate must swear an oath to God. Such an oath would prevent ethical non-theists from taking office. Of course, non-ethical non-theists would have no problems with such an oath.

However, now that these Constitutions include discriminatory and intolerant language, the states are probably stuck with it. The passages will forever affirm that people who follow some minority religions were considered unreliable second- class citizens of questionable morality -- at least at the time that the state constitutions were written. They could only be removed through constitutional change; this requires at least a majority vote of the citizens of the state. With the present political leadership and religious climate towards non-theists in many of these states, this is simply not going to happen.

Kind of blows the equality and freedom image to bits doesn't it? I'll allow that at least some of these states would likely not attempt to enforce this issue but anyone want to place bets on South Carolina not using every weapon at their disposal to club any non-Christians over the head?

More to the point, I think it highlights a larger issue. The fact that a non-Christian, Atheist or Agnostic would not stand a snowball's chance in hell of being elected in most states. Don't even try it in a Red state unless you enjoy hate mail and death threats. Think that's an exaggeration? Try it and let me know how it works out for you, I dare you.

Fun With Fundies

A loving message from the good Christian believers of Westboro Baptist Church. Granted they're a bit more openly radical than most of the fundamentalist churches but anyone who thinks this isn't fairly reflective of the fundie mentality is kidding themselves.

This is from a few months ago but for anyone who might have missed it, especially my non-US friends...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Long Overdue Tribute to Asshole Fundies

I was responding to the comment Leftdog made on the previous post and turned into it's own rant.

"Lisa" was a random name that represents however many people I saw become like this, trust me, it was many. I could still probably give you at least 100 names.

They had a bus and would pick up all children who had agreed to attend so parents needn't even be bothered. They would bribe us to go with free candy and movie passes or sometimes activities like skating or a swim party. Of course most parents loved it, free childcare y'know, send the little buggers to church.

I even went once to one of their "missionary nights". I left home with a typical noisy, happy bus load of kids. I rode home with about 30 or 40 zombies. That's what it felt like anyway. There was only one other kid on the bus who hadn't run up to the pulpit to "accept Jesus into his heart" and become "born again". He was about as creeped out as I was.

A few would return to "normal" eventually and reject the whole thing. Most of them never did, they were forever too frightened by the horror stories we were fed about the terrible fates awaiting "backsliders". Most of it the sort of thing you are threatened with in chain letters...if you break this chain you will die in a horrible accident/lose your family/your dog will die/etc. Naturally we were also warned about the dangers of associating with the unsaved, for the older kids this extended to dating.

They were a bit more cautious about warning us away from our unsaved relatives, after all, they needed the tacit compliance of our parents to maintain their access to us but they emphasized our responsibility to bring our loved ones "into the fold". Nothing like guilt-tripping the parental units with organised religion.

They have no compunctions about saying or doing anything to scare you into towing their party line. When I was thirteen my elder sister was killed in a car accident. A "born-again" vice-principal at my school (Mr. Lair of Goddard High School in Roswell, fucking New Mexico, yes I'm calling you out you twisted fuck, how many more kids have you tortured with your sick garbage, looks like you're still at it) called me into his office about two weeks after she died for a little talk. He was happy to inform me that I would never see her again as she was not "saved" and was therefore burning in eternal hell-fire. Of course he did this for my own good as I was still alive and could be saved! I opted for eternal hell-fire.

I don't know that it's "brave" to say these things. More likely I've just reached my limit on how much anger I can stuff and now I've started writing and it's all leaking out. Maybe my cup of hatred overfloweth and I just want to personally and publicly vilify every single self-righteous piece of human garbage that ever fucked with me.

Most of all I'm scared of what I see happening all around me. I wasn't nearly so bent about it when I thought certain things were merely isolated incidents, always going to be a few fruits and nuts in the mix. They aren't isolated incidents though, people like this are running the country. Ruining the country to be more accurate.

We can stop them but thus far we've kept our mouths shut. Some of it has been political correctness, no speaking ill of any special group. Sorry but the Nazis were a special group and we needed to speak ill of them. I can think of a few other special folks we need to speak ill of but for the purpose of this post I'll stick with the Christian Right.

Some of our reticence has simply been old-fashioned common courtesy. Contrary to how it may appear based on what I write here, I don't run around verbally assaulting people in the public square. Normally I'm very polite, I don't curse at people or attempt to do them any injury or insult. I've bent over backwards most of my life to avoid these people or if that wasn't possible, to keep my opinions to myself so as not to create conflict or offend them. Perhaps I've been too polite, some people mistake tolerance and courtesy for weakness and acquiescence. Big mistake. I'm a lot of things, weak is not one of them.

The gloves are off you fundy bastards and I'm declaring war on you.

Tired of Being Tolerant of the Intolerant

Just to clarify where I stand in regards to religion, and that means ALL religion, not just Christianity.

I don't care. Once upon a time that was my position. I did not care one way or the other what anyone chose to believe, how they chose to worship, or how faithfully or not they chose to practice their elected religion. I figured it was their business, not mine.

I even managed to maintain this view while growing up in a town overrun by what we now call "fundamentalist" Baptists. You know how it is, as soon as the white people start moving in they bring their religion and commence proselytising to the natives, there goes the neighborhood.

My teen years I spent seeing various friends and acquaintances disappear into the fundie-pit on an almost daily basis. One day Lisa was fine, running around being normal and the next day....BOOM. She'd show up looking all glassy-eyed and eager to share her new found drug with her former, unsaved companions. It was like a real-life invasion of the body snatchers experience. People you'd known all your life were suddenly crazed zombies obsessed with sin and the coming Rapture. Fun, laughter, or even just a normal conversation were no longer an option. Ones' primary mission in life was now to discover and expose the hidden Evil in everything not directly related to the praise and worship of Jesus.

Ok, I was never exactly a social butterfly so I could deal, just socialize even less than I already did. I figured it was just my crazy town, a few more years and I'm out of here. Move someplace chock full of rational people.

Except now you're everywhere. Religious zealots on every street corner, taking over the schools with your mentally retarded version of the origins of species and universe. You've even infected the workplace. When did it become acceptable for prospective state employers to ask applicants for "character and moral" references from their church??? That happened in beautiful, sunny, southern California. Yup, even California is no longer safe.

Now you've taken over much of my government. You want to dictate law from your biblical perspective. Not content to let God sort us out at the end, you've taken it upon yourselves to become judge and jury, create your own little morals court right here on earth. If you want to live by religious law I suggest you move to the fucking Middle East. They're down with that. It's working out so well for them too.

I tried to get away from you and leave you to your own devices but you wouldn't let me. That wasn't good enough for you, oh no, you want to control everyone and everything. Make the world over into your own insane, delusional image. Because Jesus, God, Allah, Yahweh, Muhammad or whoever told you to. Clue: hearing voices telling you to do things is called schizophrenia. They make medications that can clear it up for you.

Fuck all of you. I can't state it any more clearly than that. I regret that it's come to that. I'd have preferred to live and let live. Live and let live is not in your frame of reference though. It has to be all your way and you have no problem whatsoever with stomping on anyone else's right to live and exist as they choose if it suits your purposes. You don't even object to killing in the name of your chosen deity. You believe it's your God-given RIGHT.

Until recently I had no beef with the large number of moderately religious people. Hey, you were just trying to be better people and live in better ways. What's so bad about that?

I've begun to see you as part of the problem. See, the thing is you bend over so far in the name of religious freedom that you've become nothing but apologists for the radicals and fanatics. Add in the fact that 8 out of 10 when your fence-straddling asses go to the vote right in lockstep with your zombie-brained cousins. Thanks so much for helping to enable the growing American Theocracy.

I've run out of tolerance for you. I no longer care about your widdle itty-bitty feelings. I don't care if you feel "discriminated" against. You've been happily walking on everyone else's faces for long enough, you never concerned yourselves with the rights or feelings of others. I'm tired of being "nice" to you and being careful not to offend.

You don't understand the first fucking thing about being respectful of others. You had no problem calling me a "Satan-worshipping" witch because my children read Harry Potter now did you? Respect your beliefs? Screw you and double screw you. Did you respect mine when you declared all my friends and loved ones were going to hell because they didn't accept your version of God or live as you've decided is the only right way? Respect your holy books? Like you respect my books whenever you decide to ban them or burn a few? You have to give respect if you expect to get any. You've shown no respect for anyone different from you and you want to cry because I hate you? Please, get a clue.

Keep pissing off everyone who isn't you. Eventually you'll probably piss off enough people we can just round you up and airdrop the lot of you into the center of Tehran.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fresh Atheist Talent

Always considered myself more of an "agnostic" than an "atheist" but I've been rethinking, or maybe more accurate to say, seriously thinking about the whole issue. This guy scored some points with me.

His rap video doesn't suck either.

Not Earthshaking But it Still Bugs You

I have to ask for help on this one. The question just keeps gnawing at me and will not go away no matter how I try to put it aside.

No, I'm not talking about why we have to take off our shoes at the airport when any idiot could think of at least a few better places to hide a weapon than between their toes. Have to confess I love the imagery I get imagining a long line of proctologists standing ready to check in the passengers.....but no, my question is even more trivial.

What in the HELL is Buffalo Sauce? I can only come up with a few substances of a "sauce-like" nature which might be readily produced by a buffalo and I cannot fathom wanting to ingest any of them. I know the theory that Cowbirds once followed the herds in order to lay their eggs in the feces of buffalo....I suppose that could count as "buffalo sauce" but I'm not a Cowbird and I don't lay eggs so it doesn't sound very appealing.

One or two other substances come to mind, I'll let you contemplate what those might be. The only other possible answer being that Buffalo Sauce actually contains not one iota of essence-of-buffalo. Which begs the question: why call it Buffalo Sauce and why, oh, why does this moniker seem so appealing to so many people who would likely never consider ingesting authentic essence-of-buffalo? Seems kind of like calling fried potato skins "Armadillo on the Half-Shell".

Alrighty then, enough with the mammalian sauces, next question: who on earth becomes a proctologist and why?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Nothing New in the New Year

From Wikipedia:

A poor economic situation and an unmanageable national debt, both caused and exacerbated by the burden of a grossly inequitable system of taxation, the massive spending of Louis XVI and the many wars of the 18th century

High unemployment and high bread prices causing more money to be spent on food and less in other areas of the economy

Food scarcity in the months immediately before the revolution

On the other hand, there were social and political factors, many of them involving resentments and aspirations given focus by the rise of Enlightenment ideals:

Resentment of royal absolutism

A resentment of noble privilege and dominance in public life by the ambitious professional classes

Resentment of manorialism (seigneurialism) by peasants, wage-earners, and, to a lesser extent, the bourgeoisie

Resentment of clerical privilege (anti-clericalism) and aspirations for freedom of religion
Aspirations for liberty and (especially as the revolution progressed) republicanism

Any of that look eerily familiar? Unless one is a die hard neo-con of the highest order it would have to.

I started thinking about this back in 2000. Naturally at that time such ideas put me pretty squarely in the "paranoid nutcase" camp. Looking at least slightly less nutball these days.

Don't know about the rest of you but personally I would prefer not to go through a revolution or civil war. I mean seriously, all those beheadings and the interim turmoil get incredibly messy. I was, and still am, a strong supporter of our current form of government. Eh, well, more or less. The emphasis these days leaning more heavily towards less.

No, I'm not advocating we commence building guillotines, quite the contrary. I'm asking if it wouldn't be wiser in the greater scheme of things to do a little self-inventory and an overhaul. The engine seems to be sound but some of our pieces and parts have begun to fail and others simply have not kept pace with change. You know the saying, an ounce of prevention......

At some point we are going to have to face the fact that we cannot continue to build upon a massive underclass without the ever more likely possibility of being bitch-slapped. Hard.

It's worked out fairly well so far. We've managed to disenfranchise certain groups piecemeal and the rest of us were, for the most part, ok with this. So what if we don't care for single moms, hey, it was their bad choices. Who cares if we criminalize addicts, they had a choice. Not going to worry about minimum wage workers, they should have gotten educations. Ethnic minorities? Screw 'em, they could have stayed in their own countries. Gay people, no big deal, how many of them could there be.

Except in defiance of all accepted laws of gravity it's all rolling uphill now isn't it? How many Americans now feel secure that they will have health care when they need it? How many are left who feel safe in the knowledge that neither they nor any of their loved ones will ever have to work for subsistence wages? How many do not have a loved one who is or has been a single parent, an ethnic minority, gay, suffering from addiction, facing bankruptcy, unable to afford college, etc? Feel free to add your own "less than privileged" group here.

Ok, so you say none of these situations apply to your family. Bully for you. That puts you in the what, 10%? Which leaves 90% of the population, um, not exactly in your fan club. Not when push comes to shove. Dangerous odds.

Now keeping all of these "special" groups at each others throats has been pretty handy. Nothing like divide and conquer but it's wearing a little thin now isn't it? Don't know that you've noticed but we've begun talking to each other, you know, comparing notes and all. Wouldn't say there is consensus at this point but we've managed to find at least a few talking points.

No need to panic just yet but just keep pushing and I'm confident we can blow the whole mess into a giant bonfire. History has a way of repeating itself and the one thing we seem to be unable to do is to learn that.